In her 1985 book, entitled “Making Peace with Food”, Susan Kano chronicles her decision to feed her body, rather than starving it and to no longer focus on weight, size, and body obsessions. The book is part autobiography and part practical guide and is as relevant today as it was when she wrote it. She purports that most women in our culture have at least some traits of eating disorders, chronic preoccupations with food and weight, and behaviors that range from bingeing to semi-starvation. How could we not, living in our size 2 (or 0) obsessed world where all of the images we see in films, magazines and on television are of ultra-thin women and where every other commercial or advertisement is for a diet product?

Susan and I could be soul sisters. After a tortuous childhood as a fat kid and then years of dieting, I was finally thin, very thin. Like Susan I was obsessed with my size and weight. I prided myself on wearing the smallest size and weighing the least of all of my friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and most women in this country. I was pretty, petite, and obsessed, stepping on the scale at least five times a day and often dreaming of food.

One night, in one of my food dreams, a voice shouted at me, “Throw out your scale!” (I swear to you it was a dream not a hallucination.) So the next day I took my scale to the dumpster, and with more than a few moments of hesitation, I flung it in. Then I went to the grocery store to shop for “real food”, promising myself that I would no longer eat fat free this and sugar free that. If Susan could do it, so could I.

What happened next was a process that paralled Susan’s. I made myself promises that I would eat whatever I wanted, that I would eat when I was hungry, and that I would stop when I was full. What I did not anticipate was how threatening this oh so natural approach would be. I got scared! So unbeknownst to my conscious mind, I started to play mind games. (You know them.) As the emptiness was growing in my tummy and the growling became louder, I would ask myself, “Am, I really hungry?” And then I would ask, “Do you really need to eat now?” The part of me still shackled to the past shouted a convincing no! What followed next was a prolonged struggle between mind and body, with my mind telling me to ignore my hunger signals and my body pushing me to respond to them.

Flash forward to the present. My relationship with food has stabilized. I follow all three guidelines for mindful eating and I exercise regularly. I’m strong and healthy and I’m free at last from weight, diet, and body image obsessions. No more mind games. No more pretending I’m not hungry when I really am. No more pretending I’m hungry when I’m really not. And yes, my body has changed. It’s at natural weight and size. Do I weigh more than I used to? Yes. But I’m free (at last) from all of those obsessions that prevented me from fully living my life.

Want to join me? Here are five steps to freedom:

1. Let your body lead you. It will tell you when to eat and when to stop. (It’s not your body that propels you to eat that whole half-gallon of ice cream.)
2. Talk gently and lovingly to yourself. Stop berating yourself and your body for imperfections. (We would never talk to another human being the way we talk to ourselves!)
3. Hang out with like-minded women who embrace that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and can have a conversation that doesn’t revolve around dieting.
4. Appreciate all that your body does for you. Value its functions – not just its form.
5. Love yourself for exactly who you are. Let go of comparisons to other women, their lives, their jobs, their partners, and their bodies.

Can you add to the freedom list?

Author's Bio: 

is a licensed, clinical social worker with over 13 years of counseling experience. In her Plattsburgh-based private practice, she works with women who want more joy and fulfillment in their lives. Ilene’s BodySense program is open to women of all ages who are in conflict with weight, eating, and body image. She can be reached at 518-570-6164 or